Coming off a loss in Super Bowl 52, the New England Patriots saw numerous key contributors depart via last year’s free agency: Nate Solder, Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler were among those leaving the team to join greener pastures elsewhere. The Patriots train, however, kept rolling — first to another division title, then to the playoffs, and then finally to the organization’s third Super Bowl victory in the last five years.
Constructing this machine was once again de facto general manager Bill Belichick, and he did so in masterful fashion and despite all the turnover his club experienced. Even though the Patriots lost some serious talent, Belichick found viable replacements: from left tackle Trent Brown to rookie running back Sony Michel to cornerback acquisitions Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson — New England’s roster remained deep and talented.
In the end, this allowed Belichick and the Patriots to reign supreme once more. It is therefore no surprise to see him receive a familiar honor: just like he did the last five offseasons, Rotoworld’s Patrick Daugherty ranked the future Hall of Famer as the best GM in pro football — ahead of upstarts like the Philadelphia Eagles’ Howie Roseman (#2), the Los Angeles Rams’ Les Snead (#4), or the Indianapolis Colts’ Chris Ballard (#5), and veterans such as Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert (#3).
“How did Bill Belichick celebrate his sixth Super Bowl victory as head coach? By letting his left tackle and top pass rusher walk in free agency,” Daugherty writes in his rationale explaining Belichick again coming out on top in his rankings. “Neither time nor winning have softened Belichick’s heart. He continues to do the things no other coach or general manager will do.”
“Belichick scours all available avenues for talent, playing the longest, most patient game,” concludes Daugherty. “He is completely unbeholden to sentiment. This may not be a recommended personality trait in a normal human being, but Belichick has never pretended to be normal. The only game he plays is on the field. The rest is unrelenting logic. Perhaps that leaves you cold. It also keeps the trophy case warm.”
Belichick is, of course, the most valuable asset in all of football and 2018 proved it once again. With other teams investing in the passing game on both sides of the football, he modeled his team to be an identity-shifting hybrid on both offense and defense — one that was able to outgun the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game, two weeks before stifling an equally productive Rams team in Super Bowl 53.
Even though last season saw some of the league’s younger general managers create power house teams, Belichick again showed why he is the master after all and in a class of his own.